LAS VEGAS – Ford Racing history comes full circle as iconic race cars from the past share the stage with Ford’s newest motorsports vehicles in a special salute to 110 Years of Ford Racing at the 2011 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show starting today at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Ford’s racing legacy began in 1901 when Henry Ford entered and won his first and only race behind the wheel of a car he built named Sweepstakes. That historic vehicle – on loan from The Henry Ford Museum – is on display at SEMA along with a host of other cars that celebrate milestone moments in Ford Racing history.
“Racing is in our blood. It is part of our DNA,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “Henry Ford used racing to help prove out his product and to attract attention, and we race today for the same reasons – to prove out our products on the track, to draw attention to our products and to communicate the Ford story.”
The car that started it all 110 years ago also shares the stage with Ford’s latest entry into the motorsports arena, Focus ST-R, making its North American debut at SEMA. The turnkey race car is Ford Racing’s first truly global race car. It will be available to professionals, amateurs and track-day enthusiasts to race in a variety of series starting in North America in 2012.
“People who buy a Focus ST-R will get a fully prepared race car that will only need communications equipment and the customer’s decal to go racing,” said Allison. “We’ve already had significant interest in this vehicle from numerous established race teams.”
Visitors to the 2011 SEMA show will be treated to a broad spectrum of Ford Racing vehicles including:
1932 Edelbrock Special: This “2B” RTA/SCTA/BONNEVILLE record-setting roadster set 13 world land speed records in its day. The car features a 1932 Ford chassis, 259-cubic-inch 1949 Ford flathead V8 engine, with Edelbrock heads and three-carburetor intake. It could be considered the quintessential racing highboy of its era.
1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe Replica: Carroll Shelby built six of these coupes to compete against Ferrari in the World Manufacturers’ Championship GT race class.
John Force Mustang Funny Car: John Force Racing has been a fixture in NHRA drag racing for 36 years. The team has earned 17 Funny Car team championships, including a record 15 titles from Force himself.
So-Cal Streamliner: In 1949 Alex Xydias set the fastest timed run of 210 mph with this vehicle in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) land speed racing event on the Bonneville Salt Flats. This replica, just like the original, is composed entirely of Ford components, a Model A front end, Model T frame, ’49 Mercury flathead and a ’32 rear end.
Brian Deegan X Games Fiesta: Nicknamed “The General,” Brian Deegan has tackled the X Games Rally competition in a Ford Fiesta the last two years. In 2011 he captured X Games gold for Ford, leading a 1-2-3 Fiesta sweep in Rallycross competition.
Brent Hajek Bonneville Super Duty: On Aug. 19, this 2011 F-250 set two land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Iconic Ford Racing vehicles featured at this year’s SEMA show
In 1901 Henry Ford – a virtual unknown at the time – drove in his first and only race behind the wheel of this vehicle, which he nicknamed Sweepstakes. In a stunning, come-from-behind victory, Ford defeated famous car builder and racer Alexander Winton in a 10-lap race on a one-mile oval track at the Detroit Driving Club in Grosse Pointe, Mich. That race on Oct. 10, 1901, changed the course of history because it helped Ford attract the investors he needed to start the Henry Ford Company – and then the Ford Motor Company – in 1903.
Jim Clark’s 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner, Lotus-Ford 38/1
Jim Clark scored Ford’s first victory in the Indianapolis 500 behind the wheel of this Lotus-Ford 38/1. It also was the first win for a rear-engine car. In fact, Ford-powered rear-engine vehicles swept the top four positions in that race with Parnelli Jones coming in second, rookie Mario Andretti third and Al Miller fourth. Ford brought one of its NASCAR teams – Wood Brothers Racing – to pit the car that day, and Firestone created special tires for it. A front-engine car has not won Indianapolis since that day.
Winner at 1967 Le Mans, Ford GT40 Mark IV
Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt drove this Ford GT40 Mark IV to the second of four consecutive Ford wins at Le Mans in 1967. It was the first victory at Le Mans for an all-American driver lineup in an American-built race car. On the podium, Gurney popped the champagne cork and sprayed the bubbly over the surrounding people. That started a race winner’s tradition that continues to this day.
Bill Elliott’s 1987 NASCAR winner, Ford Thunderbird
Bill Elliott set the fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR history on April 30, 1987 with this Ford Thunderbird, going 212.809 mph at Talladega, Ala. It’s a record that will never be broken since NASCAR went to engine restrictor plates after the event. Elliott went on to win the NASCAR Winston Cup title in 1988, the first for a Ford driver since 1969.
Trevor Bayne’s 2011 NASCAR winner, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion
Trevor Bayne, driving a Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing, won a milestone Daytona 500 in February of this year. It was the 600th win by a Ford car in NASCAR’s premier series and the first for Bayne in his second Sprint Cup race. It happened the day after Bayne’s 20th birthday, making him the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500. For the Wood Brothers it was win No. 98, their fifth Daytona 500 victory. Their first was also the first for Ford, in 1963 with Tiny Lund – when he, too, won his first Grand National race, then NASCAR’s premier series.